by Michelle Moons
SAN DIEGO – A sold-out matinee performance of Don Quixote on April 13, 2014 was possibly the last-ever performance for the San Diego Opera. Amidst financial troubles, directors of the organization voted almost unanimously to cease operations at a March 19 meeting.
Many came out to show support. Some supporters held a candlelight vigil, while others wrote messages in chalk on the sidewalk and encouraged opera patrons to do the same.
Some opera proponents suggest General and Artistic Director Ian Campbell stands to gain more by shutting down the opera than risking staying open and further depleting funds used to pay him and a few other contracted employees. NBC San Diego reported the Artistic Director’s $500,000 salary would be at risk if operations continue and the opera risks insolvency or bankruptcy. “Empty seats, dwindling donations and high overhead,” were also reported as contributing to the company’s shrinking finances.
Another local opera supporter, Mark Meyer, defended Williams and cited the recession as a primary reason for the opera’s financial troubles. Meyer told NBC San Diego, “We had a recession, Ian kept it goin. He can’t do miracles by himself.”
One San Diego U-T report stated the opera now employs, “more than 400 full-time and seasonal employees.” These employees will now have to turn elsewhere for work.
Still questions remain as to why there was not more warning of the impending shutdown. The San Diego U-T reported that 25 years of balanced budgets were provided to the City of San Diego by the organization in applications to the city for funding. The U-T report went on to say, “Now preparing for shutdown with funds near complete depletion, the group’s leaders say they knew of financial troubles internally for years.”
With less than a month until the dissolution, slated for April 29, the question remains: will the San Diego opera call it a night or does hope remain that the organization will be revived to sing another day?
A website dedicated to keeping the doors of the San Diego Opera open can be found at:http://savesandiegoopera.org/, as well as a Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/savesandiegoopera. Announcement has been made both on the website and Facebook page that Thursday, April 17, 2014 a town hall meeting will be held to discuss ways to move forward with the opera.
The invitation for the meeting states, “Join us to discuss the future of San Diego Opera by looking at ways other cities have ‘turned the corner’ on financial difficulty with energy and success.”